THE LARCENIC LAGNAM
Earlier, festivities in Indian weddings used to be spread over 5 or more days. Now with the custom of conducting them in wedding halls in vogue, the celebration has come down to barely one or two days. But whatever might be the duration, the most important part of the wedding, the muhoortam is selected with the greatest care- in consultation with the astrologers.
Muhoortam is the formal part of the wedding during which the daughter is given away. At this time the bride is made to sit on the lap of her father (Lord have mercy on an aged father who failed to get his overgrown daughter married off in time). Her hands are made to jointly hold a coconut with the bridegroom’s hands and holy water from a silver pot is poured over it without a break by the mother of the bride till the priest finishes chanting the family trees (upto 3 generations) on both sides three times.The ritual is called ‘dhaare’(flow)
The whole ritual is carried out in the muhoortam time called lagnam. It is carefully chosen as each lagnam is associated with a calamity also. The calamities may befall due to five agents, namely, mrityu (death), agni (fire), raja (king), chor (thief) or rogapanchaka (disease). So when we fixed the muhoortam for our daughter’s wedding, we had to choose the comparatively mild one, that being a chor lagnam. That meant, due to the marriage being conducted in that lagnam, there was a risk of our losing some personal belongings. The priest assured us that propitiation could be done to nullify the effect of the bad lagnam by gifting a pair of lamps to a Brahmin. We decided to go the whole hog and presented a pair of small silver lamps to all the lady-relatives. The deity must have been really pleased as the wedding went off well with not a single article missing from the wedding premises. Of course, the strict vigilance of my hawk eyed brothers-in law also must have contributed to it.
But the deity in charge of the larcenic lagnam (period of larceny) was not one to let go so easily. Ramu’s friend BKS who had parked the popular brand of car, a white Ambassador in the parking lot of a famous hotel across the street from the wedding venue, found it missing when he came to collect it in the night after the reception. A police complaint was lodged. In spite of that, the car could not be traced. It was as if the evil deity had really spirited it away.
But strange are the ways of destiny. The period allotted to the larcenic lagnam must have come to an end when after a year, a nephew of BKS, who was well steeped in the automobile lore, found something familiar about the car which was waiting to fill in the fuel at the gas station. Yes, it was his uncle’s car! No doubt about it!! He stealthily tailed the car and noted the house number when the car was locked up in the garage. The police were informed. When the culprits were apprehended, they confessed that they used to take the car out only at nights to transport recently- printed newspaper bundles to Madras!